When to Change the Timing Belt in Ford Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The timing belt on your Ford car works with the sprockets Ford car the camshaft and crankshaft. Replacing a timing belt is much more difficult than the accessory drive belt, as the camshaft and crankshaft must be set at the Top Down Center (TDC) position. Check with your mechanic before you do this, especially because the procedure may vary depending on your engine type.

Under The Hood:

 When to Change the Timing Belt in a Fiesta

Inspecting Your Timing Belt

Unlike most cars, which call for timing belt changes around 70,000 to 90,000 miles, the Fiesta requires a timing belt change every 35,000 miles or every three years. Luckily, the Fiesta's timing belt is very easy to find and inspect. Pull away the alternator from the engine and remove the timing cover to get a clear view.

If you have owned the car since it sat on the showroom floor and haven't changed the belt in 35,000 miles or more, call your dealership and set up an appointment. These parts fall under the wear and tear category, not under factory warranty.

Otherwise, look for wear in the belt or cracking. Feel along the belt to see whether teeth are worn or missing. If so, take the car to a mechanic to have the belt replaced.

If you have problems with the belt's teeth, ask your mechanic to check the crankshaft pulley. Defects on that part can cause unneeded wear on the timing belt. A special note for the 1988 Fiesta: Ford recalled the tensioner pulley because of concerns that it caused irregular wear on the belts, so see your Ford dealer on what kind of warranty work you can have done if you have been using this pulley after changing your timing belts.

Can I do this myself?

This is not a job for the novice mechanic because it has to do with the complete functioning of your vehicle. You must tear apart a good portion of your engine in replacing this belt, adjusting pulleys to reflect the correct timing and make your cylinders all maintain a correct pattern. If this timing is incorrect, your rods could find their way through your engine and destroy it, essentially totaling the car.

If you do think that you have enough knowledge to do the job, a timing belt at your local NAPA outlet will run you about $65.

 How to Change the Timing Belt on a 1999 Ford Escort

Lift the car and support it on the jack stands. Remove the right front wheel and the inner splash guard. Remove the accessory belt and the tensioner. Remove the coolant reservoir and the power steering pump but leave the lines attached.

Support the engine with the floor jack and remove the right hand side motor mount and bracket. Raise the engine slightly and remove the timing belt cover and the crankshaft pulley bolt and the pulley. Turn the engine clockwise until the crankshaft timing marks are lined up. There is a triangular mark on the crankshaft and a plate with a mark at 12 o'clock on the block. The camshaft has a triangular mark on the sprocket and a dot on the block at 12 o'clock that must line up.

Loosen the tensioner bolt and use an Allen wrench and turn the tensioner counterclockwise to release tension on the belt. Place an 8mm drill bit in the hole to hold it in place. Remove the timing belt.

Make sure that the timing marks line up and install the new belt. Start on the right side and work counterclockwise, keeping the belt tight on the right side. Remove the 8mm drill bit and allow the tensioner to operate. Tighten the tensioner bolt to 22 foot pounds of torque.

Turn the crankshaft two turns clockwise and make sure the timing marks still align. Install all components in reverse order of removal and torque the crankshaft bolt to 96 foot pounds of torque.

Items you will need

  • Set of ¼-inch drive sockets

  • ¼-inch drive ratchet

  • Set of ½-inch drive sockets

  • ½-inch drive air gun

  • Allen wrenches

  • Set of metric wrenches

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

 How to Change the Timing Belt on a 2000 Ford Escort

Lift the hood. Lift the front of the car with the floor jack and support the car with the jack stands. Remove the passenger-side tire and wheel assembly, using the lug wrench. Remove the inner splash shield, using a 10 mm socket. Loosen the serpentine belt tensioner with a wrench by pushing it away from the belt while you remove the belt.

Remove the coolant reservoir tank with a 10 mm socket, leaving the hoses attached and move it out of the way of the top engine mount. Remove the bolts securing the power steering pump, using a socket, leaving the hoses attached, and move it aside.

Place the floor jack under the engine oil pan and raise the jack just until it contacts the oil pan. Remove the upper passenger-side motor mount and bracket, using a socket. Raise the engine slightly with the floor jack.

Remove the timing belt cover, using a 10 mm socket. Turn the crankshaft clockwise with a socket and ratchet until the timing mark on the crankshaft pulley aligns with the mark on the 0 mark on the block at the 12 o'clock position. Check that the timing mark pointer on the camshaft sprocket is aligned with the mark on the cylinder head at 12 o'clock. If the mark on the camshaft sprocket does not line up, rotate the crankshaft one more time and they will align.

Remove the crankshaft bolt,using a socket and breaker bar. Remove the pulley. Loosen the timing belt tensioner bolt, using a wrench and inserting a 1/8-inch Allen wrench into the tensioner. Turn it counterclockwise a quarter-turn. Insert the 1/8-inch drill bit in the hole in the block next to the tensioner to keep it in place. Remove the timing belt.

Install the new timing belt starting on the right side, away from the tensioner. Keep the belt as tight as possible on the right side, so the slack in the belt will be on the tensioner side. Remove the drill bit from the belt tensioner and allow it to apply tension to the timing belt. Tighten the tensioner bolt with a wrench. Insure that both timing marks are perfect, because this is an interference engine.

Turn the crankshaft by temporarily installing the crankshaft bolt and using a socket and ratchet. Turn it clockwise two turns and re-check the timing marks. Install the timing cover, crank pulley and remaining parts in reverse order of removal.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Lug wrench

  • Ratchet

  • Breaker bar

  • Set of sockets

  • Set of wrenches

  • 1/8-inch Allen wrench

  • 1/8-inch drill bit

 How to Change a Timing Belt on a Ford Ranger 2.3 Ltr Engine

Preparation

Place a drain pan under the radiator and drain the coolant from the radiator.

Squeeze the spring clamp holding the upper radiator hose to the radiator fitting with a pair of rib joint pliers and slide the clamp towards the engine.

Twist and pull the upper radiator hose off the radiator.

Remove the fan blade using a ratchet, ratchet extension and socket.

Rotate the belt tensioner pulley using a breaker bar and remove the drive belt.

Detach the water pump pulley using a ratchet, ratchet extension and socket.

Pry off the access plug from the upper part of the timing belt cover using a small standard screwdriver.

Set the transmission to Neutral and apply the Parking brakes.

Rotate the crankshaft pulley with a ratchet, ratchet extension and socket to align the "O" mark on the crankshaft pulley and the "O" mark on the belt cover.

Look through the cover access hole. If you see another timing mark on the camshaft sprocket aligned with the mark on the inner belt cover, cylinder number 1 is at Top Dead Center (TDC). If not, rotate the crankshaft one complete turn again and check for the alignment marks.

Removing the Timing Belt

Unscrew the four mounting bolts and the Phillips screw next to the access plug from the timing belt cover using a ratchet, ratchet extension and socket and Phillips screwdriver.

Detach the crankshaft pulley using a ratchet, ratchet extension and socket and remove the belt guide (large washer) from behind the crankshaft pulley. You may need a pulley remover to take the crankshaft pulley off. If so, you can rent one from most auto parts stores.

Loosen the adjusting bolt on the tensioner pulley assembly using a ratchet, ratchet extension and socket.

Rotate the tension spring rollpin (this is the screw next to the adjuster bolt on the tensioner pulley assembly) away from the timing belt using timing belt tensioner wrench number T74P-6254-A. As you hold the timing belt loose, tighten the assembly adjuster bolt to lock the tensioner using the ratchet, ratchet extension and socket. Now remove the tensioner wrench.

Remove the timing belt.

Installing the New Timing Belt

Install the new timing belt starting at the crankshaft sprocket. Route the belt in a counterclockwise direction over the auxiliary and camshaft sprockets. Properly engage the belt lugs on the sprockets' teeth and keep any slack on the belt to the right side, between the crankshaft and camshaft sprockets. Make sure not to rotate any of the sprockets as you install the timing belt.

Loosen the adjuster bolt on the tensioner pulley assembly so the tensioner rolls against the belt. If necessary, push the tensioner pulley against the belt with a large standard screwdriver to remove any remaining slack on the belt.

Make sure the transmission is in the Neutral position and the Parking brakes are engaged.

Rotate the crankshaft two complete revolutions so that cylinder No.1 is back in TDC. This will help to tighten the timing belt on the sprockets.

Tighten the adjuster bolt on the tensioner pulley assembly between 14- and 21-foot lbs. (19.0 to 29.0 Nm) using a torque wrench.

Tighten the tension-spring bolt between 28- and 40-foot lbs. (38.0-54.0 Nm) using the torque wrench.

Install the belt guide (large washer) and the crankshaft pulley. Tighten the pulley bolt with the ratchet, ratchet extension and socket.

Install the timing belt cover with a new gasket using the ratchet, ratchet extension and socket and Phillips screwdriver.

Reinstall the water pump pulley, drive belt, fan blade and upper radiator hose.

Refill the cooling system with coolant.

Items you will need

  • Drain pan

  • Ratchet

  • Ratchet extension

  • Socket set

  • Small standard screwdriver

  • Phillips screwdriver

  • Timing belt tensioner wrench No. T74P-6254-A

  • Large standard screwdriver

  • Torque wrench

  • Timing belt

  • Timing belt cover gasket

 How to Replace the Timing Belt on a 2002 Focus

Accessing the Timing Belt

Unplug the car's negative battery cable.

Raise the car's front end, support it on jack stands and remove the wheel on the right side. Block the rear wheels and remove the passenger's side splash shield.

Remove the accessory drive belt. Unbolt and remove the belt's lower cover and turn the tensioner bolt clockwise to release the tension. Unbolt and remove the drive belt tensioner at the center bolt.

Remove and set aside the power steering pump reservoir from the pump, letting the fluid drain into a suitable container. Un-bolt the coolant expansion tank and set it aside; don't disconnect its hoses.

Take off the timing belt cover by removing the upper nuts and bolts followed by the lower ones.

Removing the Timing Belt

Rotate the engine clockwise using a breaker bar and socket on the crankshaft damper bolt. Rotate it until the timing mark on the camshaft pulley aligns with the cylinder head's timing mark and the crankshaft pulley mark aligns with the TDC mark on the oil pump housing.

Loosen the belt tensioner's bolt and pry it to the left with an 8mm Allen wrench. Lock the tensioner in place with a 1/8-inch drill bit in the hole and re-tighten the bolt.

Remove the spark plugs by pulling out the spark plug wire at the boot and removing the plugs with a wrench and spark plug socket; turn the wrench counterclockwise.

Hold onto the crankshaft damper with a strap wrench and then remove the damper bolt, the damper and then the timing belt.

Installation

Check to see that all the timing marks on the crankshaft and camshaft sprockets are still properly aligned.

Install the new timing belt in a couterclockwise direction over the pulleys starting at the crankshaft. Keep the belt tight between the camshaft and crankshaft and you install it over the other pulleys.

Loosen the attaching bolt on the belt tensioner so the tensioner will snap into place against the timing belt.

Re-install the crankshaft damper, tightening the bolt to 88 foot pounds.

Rotate the crankshaft by two full clockwise revolutions. Stop on the second turn when the camshaft and crankshaft sprockets are both at the TDC position.

Tighten the tensioner's attaching bolt to 18 foot pounds.

Re-connect and install the remaining parts and components in the reverse order of removal.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Lug wrench

  • Socket wrench

  • Spark plug socket

  • Container

  • Breaker bar and socket

  • Allen wrench

  • 1/8-inch drill bit

  • Strap wrench

  • Timing belt

 How to Replace the Timing Belt in a Ford Ranger

Disconnect the battery ground cable and lay it aside. Make sure that it doesn’t touch metal. Place the drain pan under the radiator petcock. Loosen the petcock and allow the antifreeze to drain into the drain pan. If the drain pan is clean, you can reuse the antifreeze.

Loosen the accessory drive belt tensioners. If the tensioner is a slider, loosen the bolts on the sliders, then push the accessory toward the engine. If the tensioner has a pulley, put a socket or a wrench on the tensioner pulley bolt and push the tensioner away from the belt. Lift the belts off the pulleys.

Remove the alternator using the appropriate sockets. Loosen the hose clamps on the upper radiator hose using a screwdriver, socket or pliers, depending on the type of clamp you have. Pull the upper radiator hose off. Remove the water pump pulley and the crankshaft pulley bolt using the appropriate sockets. Loosen the retaining bolts at the bottom of the distributor cap with the screwdriver, then lift the cap off. Leave the wires attached.

Unscrew and remove the access plug from the timing belt cover. It is located a few inches from the top of the cover. Turn the crankshaft clockwise until you can see the timing marks on the camshaft line up in the hole vacated by the access plug. Remove the timing belt cover using the appropriate socket.

Check that the rotor on the distributor is pointing toward the number 1 cylinder. The number 1 cylinder is closest to the timing belt. Loosen the timing belt adjuster bolt. Move the tensioner away from the belt using the pry bar. Tighten the tensioner bolt just enough to hold the tensioner in place. Remove the crankshaft pulley, then lift the timing belt off the sprockets.

Check that the camshaft timing marks are still lined up at the 5 o’clock position and that the crankshaft sprocket key is in the 12 o’clock position. Make sure the rotor is still pointing at the number 1 cylinder.

Install the timing belt, starting on the crankshaft sprocket, then routing it over the intermediate sprocket, and over the camshaft, keeping the belt taut. Once over the camshaft sprocket, route it behind the tensioner pulley. The belt should be loose on the tensioner side and taut on the non-tensioned side.

Loosen the tensioner bolt to allow the tensioner to put tension on the timing belt. Tighten the bolt just enough to hold it in place. Turn the crankshaft clockwise two turns, until the timing marks on the camshaft line up and the keyway on the crankshaft sprocket is at the 12 o’clock position. Check that the rotor is pointing to the number 1 cylinder again.

Loosen the tensioner bolt. Allow the tensioner to put more tension on the belt. Tighten the tensioner bolt to 17 foot-pounds of torque. Install the rest of the parts in reverse order of removal. Tighten the crankshaft pulley bolt to 150 foot-pounds of torque. Tighten the radiator petcock. Refill the radiator. Check the ignition timing with the timing light and adjust if needed.

Items you will need

  • Set of wrenches

  • Drain pan

  • Set of sockets

  • Screwdriver

  • Pliers

  • Pry bar

  • Torque wrench

  • Timing light

 How to Replace the Timing Belt on a Ford Contour

Removal

Disconnect the negative battery cable. Loosen the lug nuts on the right front wheel with a lug wrench. Raise the front of the vehicle with a floor jack. Position jack stands under the proper support points and lower the Contour onto the stands. Remove the right front wheel.

Remove the splash shield inside the fender. Remove the drive belt. Support the engine with a jack stand or floor jack with a block of wood under the oil pan.

Remove the coolant recovery tank. Remove the motor mount and bracket in front of the timing cover. Remove the idler pulley, water pump pulley, crankshaft pulley and the timing belt covers. Remove and mark the cylinder number on each spark plug wire and remove the spark plugs.

Install the crankshaft pulley. Turn the crankshaft clockwise until the cylinder number one piston is at Top Dead Center and the timing mark on the crankshaft pulley lines up with the mark oil pan. Remove the crankshaft pulley.

Loosen the timing belt tensioner pulley bolt. Slide the tensioner away from the belt and temporarily tighten the bolt. Remove the timing belt.

Installation

Install the new timing belt. Start on the crankshaft sprocket, then the exhaust camshaft sprocket (the one on the right as you face the engine) and the intake camshaft sprocket, working in a counterclockwise direction. Make sure that the timing belt between the crankshaft sprocket and the exhaust camshaft sprocket is tight.

Install the lower timing belt cover and the crankshaft pulley. Tighten the crankshaft bolt and torque to between 81 and 89 foot-pounds.

Loosen the timing belt tensioner pulley bolt and allow the pulley to put tension on the timing belt. Turn the crankshaft clockwise for two revolutions, and torque the tensioner bolt to between 26 and 30 foot-pounds. Make sure the timing marks line up.

Install the timing belt covers. Install the spark plugs and wires. Install the water pump pulley and the idler pulley. Install the motor mount and bracket. Install the coolant recovery tank. Install the drive belt. Reconnect the negative battery cable.

Remove the support under the engine. Install the splash guard. Install the tire and tighten the lug nuts as much as you can with the lug wrench. Remove the jack stands and lower the vehicle to the ground using the floor jack. Finish tightening the lug nuts.

Items you will need

  • Lug wrench

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Sockets

  • Ratchet

  • Wrenches

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace the Timing Belt in a 1993 Ford Ranger

Disconnect the negative battery cable and lay it aside. Ensure that it does not touch metal. Remove the accessory drive belt by moving the drive belt tensioner away from the belt using a wrench or socket. Lift the belt off the pulleys. Remove the radiator cooling fan and the water pump pulley using the appropriate sockets.

Label the spark plug wires so that you know where they go when you put the Ranger back together. Remove all four wires by pulling them off the spark plugs. Remove the spark plugs using the spark plug socket.

Find top dead center by inserting the screwdriver in the number 1 spark plug hole (the one that is closest to the timing belt). The firing order for both engines is 1-3-4-2. Turn the crankshaft clockwise until you feel the screwdriver stop moving. Check the timing mark on the crankshaft. The pointer should line up with the 0 mark on the scale. If not, turn the engine over via the crankshaft once more, until the screwdriver stops moving and the pointer is on the 0 mark.

Look through the hole in the timing belt cover to check that the camshaft marks are lined up. Remove the distributor cap using a screwdriver. Make sure the rotor is pointing to the number 1 cylinder (the cylinder closest to the timing belt).

Remove the crankshaft pulley bolt using a socket. Pull the pulley off. Remove the timing belt cover and the timing belt guide using the appropriate sockets. Check that the timing marks on the idler are lined up at the 12 o’clock position.

Loosen the tensioner bolts, then release tension on the belt by using a prybar to push the tensioner away from the belt. Tighten the tensioner bolts enough to hold the tensioner in place. Lift the timing belt off the sprockets.

Check the new belt to ensure that it matches the old belt. The 2.0L and 2.3L Ford Ranger engines use a square-toothed or round-toothed belt, depending on which factory the truck came from. Check to be sure that all three timing marks are still lined up and that the rotor is still pointing at the number 1 cylinder.

Install the timing belt, starting on the crankshaft sprocket and working in a counterclockwise direction over all the sprockets, except the tensioner. The timing belt is routed behind the tensioner. Keep the belt tight between the crankshaft sprocket, the idler pulley and the camshaft sprocket on the non-tensioned side of the engine.

Loosen the tensioner bolt so that the tensioner puts pressure on the timing belt. Turn the crankshaft clockwise two times until the timing marks line up again. If the timing marks do not line up, remove the belt, and repeat the installation process.

Tighten the tensioner bolt to 35 foot-pounds of torque. Install the rest of the parts in reverse order of removal. Torque the crankshaft pulley bolt to 123 foot-pounds of torque.

Items you will need

  • Set of wrenches

  • Set of sockets

  • Spark plug socket

  • Long screwdriver

  • Prybar

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace a Timing Belt on a 2001 Ford Focus ZX3

Disconnect the negative battery cable using a 10-millimeter wrench. Raise the passenger-side front wheel off the ground using a floor jack. Support the weight of the Focus with a jack stand under the front sub-frame. Remove the wheel and inner splash shield in the front fenderwell.

Loosen the water-pump pulley bolts and then remove the serpentine belt and idler pulley. Remove the water-pump pulley bolts and slide the pulley out through the bottom of the engine compartment. Remove the spark plug wires and valve cover.

Rotate the engine to top dead center by aligning the large notch on the crank pulley with the pointer on the engine block. On the Focus, the pointer is located at the 5 o'clock position. Insert the 1/8-inch drill bit through the small hole in the crankshaft pulley and into the engine block. Remove the crank pulley and timing covers.

Insert the camshaft alignment tool into the slots in the back of the camshafts. Loosen the timing belt tensioner bolt and rotate the tensioner counterclockwise. Tighten the bolt to hold the tensioner off the belt. Slip the belt off the timing gears.

Install the new belt onto the crankshaft gear and then the remaining gears, working in a counter-clockwise direction. Loosen the timing belt tensioner bolt and allow the tensioner to tighten the belt. Tighten the tensioner bolt. Rotate the engine two full turns and line the crankshaft at top dead center. Check the camshaft alignment. Loosen and then retighten the tensioner bolt to take any remaining slack out of the belt.

Reinstall the timing cover, valve cover (using a new gasket), all pulleys that were removed, and the serpentine belt. Reinstall the inner splash shield and passenger-front wheel. Lower the car to the ground and start the engine. Test drive to verify that the engine performs properly.

Items you will need

  • Wheel chocks

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Socket set

  • Wrench set

  • Allen wrench set

  • Screwdriver set

  • Camshaft alignment tool

  • 1/8-inch drill bit